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New build for CAD (Revit, Inventor, etc.) use

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September 15, 2011 8:04:46 PM

I have a question for any CAD users out there that have a newer build suited for CAD, but not necessarily for extreme gaming. I would like to build a Caddin' machine. I intend to run vanilla AutoCAD, Revit, maybe SolidWorks or Inventor, possibly 3dsMax, etc. File size could get pretty large. Would an i5 quad core processor with a decent video card (GT good enough, or go GTX?) and 8GB of RAM be just hunky-dory for these applications, or go i7? I probably wouldn't use it for gaming (I never broke out of console gaming) but I may want it to do video editing and other possible graphics intensive stuff in the near future. Or, I may be willing to give AMD a shot, from what I have heard the new Bulldozer microarchitecture matches up against i5's. Thanks.

September 15, 2011 8:13:18 PM

Update - I just discovered the "CAD Build" subforum under Homebuilt. Sorry for posting this in the wrong spot. But, if anyone wants to weigh in on CPU choice, feel free.
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September 15, 2011 9:07:57 PM

This topic has been moved from the section CPU & Components to section Systems by Mousemonkey
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
September 15, 2011 9:28:45 PM

Fine, give me more work :p 

:lol: 

Ebalong, all workstation builds boil down to the same thing. You have to do some leg work.
Look at the requirements and design of your most used and most intensive programs.
Search for terms like ' Solidworks Hyperthreading ' and Solidworks CPU benchmarks.

That's the ONLY way you can be sure you are getting the best build. I really can't spend the hours needed to do it right.

That said, if you use a lot of different professional programs and much of what you do eats up computational time, chances are you need an i7 of some sort. I can't speculate on Bulldozer much, but I have heard a few remarks from previewers that were "somewhat optimistic". A CUDA enabled GTS 450 is probably going to be your GPU, unless you choose a more expensive workstation card.
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September 15, 2011 10:41:57 PM

Thanks! I will do some in-depth research into each program; I don't have to build anything too soon so maybe I will wait for Ivy Bridge (unless they are going to peg the prices as high as they did for some Westmere variants).
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a b B Homebuilt system
September 16, 2011 12:31:23 AM

Personally, I would go for a BD 8XXX (8 core) for when they come out. I use Autocad on my school laptop and lags a bit because it's i5 vpro (dual core at 2.5ghz). And +1 to proximon for his GTS 450. GTS 450 is a good graphics card for casual gaming and workspace use.
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Best solution

September 16, 2011 2:40:54 AM

I've run AutoCAD since the days of the IBM PC. Right now I run AutoCAD and Revit on a dual core E8500 at 3.8GHz, 4GB ram, 32-bit WinXP, ATI FireGL. I have had a few files from clients that Revit wouldn't load with only 4GB. Our best 3 workstations are ones that I built using i5-750 at 3.8GHz, 8GB ram, 64-bit Win7, ATI FireGL. I also run AutoCAD and Revit on my Dell E6500 laptop- P9500 dual core at 2.53GHz, 4GB, 32-bit Vista. It runs OK but is a bit slow.

If I built a new workstation now I would probably use a 2500k, 16GB of ram, 64-bit Win7 and Nvidia Quadro. The 2500k can go to at least 4.5GHz. The 2600k is no real advantage for the additional $100 except that it might overclock 5% more.

There is a lot of talk about video cards. Autocad and Revit don't require much video card speed, but do require good drivers especially if you run a 64-bit OS. A card that will work with a 32-bit OS might not work with a 64-bit OS. On a 32-bit OS you can run them with just about anything that will drive a monitor. Autodesk's website has a database of video cards that they have tested and I would recommend checking this if you are serious about 64-bit software. I don't think there are any gamer cards in the database, and I know that you can run OK with an ATI FireGL or Nvidia Quadro in the under $150 price range.

But AutoCAD and Revit both will make use of as much CPU speed as you can get, and holler for more. To some extent the 32 bit versions also want fast disk access but the 64bit versions seem to just utilize the additional ram.

AutoCAD and Revit run mostly on a single core, so multiple cores/threads don't really help, but I think a real workstation does enough stuff that at least a quad core is beneficial. I do things sometimes that slow down my dual core workstation at work but don't slow down my quad core machine at home.
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
September 16, 2011 3:00:28 AM

cadder said:
The 2600k is no real advantage for the additional $100 except that it might overclock 5% more.



No, the i7 2600K is hyperthreaded. The i5 2500K is not. This means that properly coded programs can have 8 simultaneously running threads, instead of the 4 available in the i5.

Take for instance the POV-Ray benchmark found here:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridge-rev...

Or the 30% speed improvement in the first benchmark here:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridge-rev...

On the other hand there is very little gain in these Solidworks benchmarks
http://www.legionhardware.com/articles_pages/intel_core...
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September 18, 2011 3:33:57 AM

Proximon said:
No, the i7 2600K is hyperthreaded. The i5 2500K is not. This means that properly coded programs can have 8 simultaneously running threads, instead of the 4 available in the i5.


It depends on the program of course but the original question involved primarily AutoCAD and Revit, both of which are single-threaded and run well enough on a dual core processor. AutoCAD and Revit benefit the most from high clock rates of a single core, and secondarily from more ram. Hyperthreading and fancy GPU's really don't have much affect.

It seems that at this time the main programs that benefit from hyperthreading are video processing programs.
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
September 18, 2011 6:28:28 AM

Yep. You have to carefully examine the programs you use or are likely to use. I certainly don't keep a list myself... that might be a nice web project for someone.....

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September 27, 2011 11:57:52 PM

Best answer selected by ebalong.
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